These 30 rock
The 30 Columbians
Farouk Olu Aregbe is more politically aware than most Americans — even though he can’t vote. The political activist, who is finishing the naturalization process, emigrated with his father and five siblings to St. Joseph from Lagos, Nigeria, as a 16-year-old. Eleven years later, Aregbe has made a name for himself both as a student government advisor and a political advocate.
While an undergraduate at Missouri Western State University, a shy Aregbe found himself thrust into campus politics when upperclassmen insisted he run for office. His freshman year, he beat a senior for the Ebony Collegiates president position. He later served two terms as student body president.
After earning a master’s degree in business with an emhasis in entrepreneurship from the University of North Dakota in 2005, Aregbe took a job as student government coordinator at MU. As coordinator, he advises and administers a broad range of student organizations, including the MSA senate, MU’s student government.
Mizzou for Obama founder, junior Michele Boeche, attributes her group’s growing success to his counsel: “I respect him a lot. He’s always coming up with unique ideas.”
Aregbe’s ability to organize effectively reaches beyond MU. He created and runs “One Million Strong for Obama,” a Facebook group that has garnered recognition from local activists, national attention and close to 400,000 members.
The activist’s skillful leadership has caught the eye of Columbia Democrats. Boone County Democrat chair Phyllis Fugit thinks that Aregbe will boost younger voter turnout in the next election. Boeche says his political prospects go further; she thinks Missourians might see Aregbe on the ballot in the future.
Aregbe himself won’t commit. “I realize that my one vote is not what’s important,” he says. “But perhaps my ability to get others to exercise their right to vote is more important.”